Canadian Genealogy |Ontario Genealogy | Victoria County | Agricultural Transformation

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Factors in Agricultural Development, Victoria County, Ontario Canada

The chief factors contributing to the changed aspect of modern agriculture have been four in number, viz: (1) the evolution and use of complex machinery;
(2) the improvement in means of transportation;
(3) the adoption of the findings of scientific investigation; and
(4) the rise of new forms of agricultural cooperation.

The Development of Machinery

The development of farm machinery has been amazing in its rapidity and extent. Oxen dragged the pioneer's tree crotch plow among the stumps, barely scratching the surface of the forest loam; thence we find a steady advance to the modern steel plow, with its removable and adjustable colter and mould board; and now, on many arms in the county, gang plows dragged by gasoline tractors, steadily urn up several furrows at a time. Then we have improvements in arrows for pulverizing the soil, in drills for sowing the seed, and n cultivators for replacing the old fashioned hoe. The earliest settlers harvested their grain with sickles, after the fashion of four thousand ears before. Then came the scythe and cradle, then the reaper and the mower, and finally that wonderful machine, the self binder. Pioneer threshing was accomplished by flailing the grain with two ticks fastened together with a strap or by having horses or oxen trample it out. Now an elaborate threshing machine run by steam r gasoline power, separates the kernels from the chaff and straw with speed and thoroughness once deemed impossible. The principle of the silo, which is as ancient as Old Testament times, has been revived and improved upon. Instead of being a mere corn pit in the ground, it is now commonly an imposing stand pipe of wood or cement, filled with chopped up fodder from a corn cutting machine. Under this system a greater number of cattle can be supported on a farm of a given size. The preparation of dairy products has likewise received great assistance from inventive genius. In early times cream was skimmed from standing milk, hung up in a bag, and pounded or swung around. Sometimes a primitive form of barrel churn was used. Then came the dash churn, and then the application of dog power, horse power, and steam power, the introduction of the box churn, and the constant elaboration of machinery in one direction and another. Today the cows can be milked by machinery; machines separate the cream from the milk; and every process in butter or cheese manufacture down to the putting of the finished product on the market can be accomplished by mechanical means. Cold storage warehouses then step in to keep the finished product from spoiling before it can be disposed of for actual, use. All these changes have come in, not during a score of generations but within the memory of men now living. Familiarity all too often blinds us to the wonder of the achievement.

Improvement of Transportation

Facilities for transportation are vitally connected with agricultural development. When precarious forest trails were the only means of travel, the export of farm products was almost unknown. A few sacks of wheat might be taken to some backwoods mill for gristing, but the farmer never ventured farther. As a result, the farm was almost self sufficient and supplied its own needs with amazing ingenuity. The building of railroads, which began in 1857, and the construction of passable roads have both wrought great changes. The farmer now produces only those things which the farm grows best, and is able to market the great surplus which exceeds his immediate needs. He now buys in town and village his clothes, his furniture, his tools, his farm implements and machinery, the lumber for his house and barn, the dishes for his table and the blankets for his bed. Certain irresponsible orators sometimes state nowadays that the farm is self supporting and self sufficient, and that farmers could, to attain economic ends, sever all connection with a recalcitrant urban population and live in splendid isolation. Only a disordered imagination could conceive of such a ghastly undertaking, by which Canadian farmers would deliberately murder, through starvation, hundreds of thousands of women and children of their own flesh and blood. Further, its fundamental assumption, that the modern farmer is economically independent, is utterly false. Strip from him all that his commercial, professional and industrial fellow citizens have given him and he would be in far worse case than his pioneer grandparents, for he would have all of their needs, and would lack the means and ability to fill them. Modern means of transportation have made us a nation of interdependent people many members, with many functions, yet one body; and if one member suffer, all suffer with it.

Agricultural Transformation

Victoria County

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